What’s it all about?
The Platypus CleanStream uses two 4 Litre hydration bladders, one labelled Clean and the other Dirty, with a water filter in the middle to make the transition. The filter is good for 0.2 microns, which means it can handle bacteria and protozoa, but if you were headed down to jungle climates you would need to consider something to handle viruses as well.
How do I use it and what’s good?
The total system: bags, filter, and hoses weighs in at around 400 grams. This makes for a pretty lightweight water filtration system. But, the best part about it is that you don’t have to pump; instead, as the name suggests, you let gravity do the work for you.
Filtering a full 4 L takes around 3 minutes, although occasionally you need to reverse the flow by holding the clean bag above the dirty.
I’ve used the CleanStream on both short and long trips. It’s easy to get water by just bringing the Dirty bag down to your water source (I try to find relatively cleanish looking, moving water). You fill it up and bring it back up to camp, connect the hose to the dirty end of the filter and hang the clean bag below. Other than that, it’s very simple to use and is a lot less effort than kneeling by your water source pumping away.
The clean bag has a cut-off valve clipped on the hose so you can hang it and use it as a camp water source. It’s handy for drinking, pouring, washing dishes, and even a quick refreshing camp shower. I purchased a Platypus bite-valve so that the clean bag does double duty as my hydration bladder while hiking.
What’s not so good?
Everything with the CleanStream system works as advertised and has surpassed my expectations, however there are some drawbacks to using this as your water purification device.
First off, the hydration bladders can be delicate and they do require some careful attention when hanging. I put a decent hole in one of my bags from a sharp branch, luckily I had some duct tape and it’s held up to this day. The system can also be a little awkward when there are no trees around on which to hang the bags.
I find the ziploc style closure at the top of the bags to be cumbersome and difficult to fully seal at times. This is not much of a problem for filtering water, but when you are also using it as a hydration bladder you don’t want any leaks in your pack.
They also require a bit of maintenance as far as cleaning. I’m meticulous about washing the bladders and hoses and cleaning the filter as recommended with bleach to keep the system from building up mildew or mold. It’s not difficult work, but it does add some cleanup time after trips.
The CleanStream cannot be used in winter, as if water freezes within the filter it will crack the elements and you’ll be sad. I am also careful using this in the shoulder seasons by taking it into my sleeping bag if there is a possibility of below zero temperatures overnight.
The past couple winter trips in Kejimkujik and Cape Chignecto, my friend Rob and I have used the Pristine Chlorine Dioxide drops. They are lighter than a filter, don’t freeze, and don’t seem to leave much taste either. However, they can be a bit finicky for mixing into your water and I’ve heard that the containers can sometimes leak. We’ve gotten around this by transferring the bigger bottles into small eye dropper bottles – still with plenty for a long trip.
I will continue to use the Platypus on longer summer trips as I like walking with a hydration bladder and this system makes it very easy to make lots of water quickly for cooking and drinking. Although, I may consider the drops for shorter trips due to the reduced weight.
According to Platypus’ website the CleanStream has been replaced by the GravityWorks filter, which shaves off another 100 grams of weight with a smaller filter cartridge. I appreciate when a manufacturer comes out with a new lighter version; too often mainstream manufacturers try to add features, durability, and along with that, weight.
Manufacturer’s Website: http://cascadedesigns.com/platypus/filtration-and-storage/gravityworks-filter/product
MSRP: $99 US